Monday, February 2, 2009

Air Quotes and Other Annoying Gestures

Because I was an English teacher (okay, I'd admit it--and a grammar geek) incorrect punctuation annoys me. I know whether the punctuation goes inside or outside the quotes. I know what the comma rules are, and I'm actually fond of the semicolon.
**CORRECTION--incorrect grammar annoys me when I'm reading something professionally written. I do NOT critique blog comments.** : )
One of my biggest pet peeves is a grammar/gesture: the air quotes. I hate them. For the most part, they're really not necessary. People ought to be able to tell from your speech where your emphasis or sarcasm is. I once knew a speaker who used air quotes way too frequently. In addition, his words were flowing more quickly than he could move. By the time he got his hands up for an air quote, he was gesturing for the wrong word. Way too funny.
Another gesture is the "okay" symbol. You know, where you make a circle with your thumb and forefinger. Does anyone even use that gesture anymore? We've shortened the word "okay" to "ok" already. And now with text messaging, it's even down to "k". It takes more time to do the gesture than to actually say the word. And it wasn't that long a word to begin with.
I think high fives will never go out of style. It used to be a total jock gesture. When other people started adopting it for themselves, they would announce it. "High five," they'd say, sticking their hand in the air. But now it's lame to announce it. Everyone knows what it is. It's also a gesture that's best used sparingly. Otherwise you're back to the jock image. Which wouldn't be so bad if you actually resembled a jock. But if you're a little doughy around the middle and you continually give high fives, you look like a jock wannabe. Not a pretty picture for anyone.
A close cousin of the high five is the fist five. I had a teen stick their fist out at me one time. I fist bumped with her and she was astonished that I knew what to do. What, like it's so hard to figure out? If someone's fist is coming at me quickly, I know to duck. If it's just sitting there, give it a fist bump.
A neighbor of the fist bump would be the hip bump. In case you're wondering, no one does that anymore, at least not in every day life. If you think about it, you're basically hitting someone with your backside. Now in what society would that be considered polite?
One gesture that I both like and hate is the thumbs up. It's a great way to give quick approval, but it can also be overused. And then, of course, people tack on the thumbs down and thumbs sideways communications. And then the one I hate the most--wagging the thumb back and forth both up and down. Either like it or don't like it. Wagging your thumbs back and forth doesn't give approval or disapproval. It merely says you can't make up your mind. If that's the case then you have no opinion at all. And if you have no opinion, why are you giving one?
Another gesture that gets confusing is the wink. This one can get you in a lot of trouble. Since a wink can indicate either fun or flirtation, there's a fine line to walk with this one. A wink has specific rules. The most basic is, don't wink at the opposite sex. It's going to be misunderstood every time. Some people try to get around this by doing the exaggerated wink. You know, they distort their open mouth to the side and very slowly close one eye. Or they vary that by rapidly, repeatedly winking. Only most people don't have the facial muscles to pull that off, so they simply look like they're having a seizure. Wrong message to send.
So there you have my take on gestures. Absolutely useless information, but it may give you a laugh for this Monday. What about you? Any gestures you find annoying? Or use all the time?
(I purposely didn't cover the gestures used often on the California freeways. I don't think they are appropriate topics for this blog!)

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